Sun Series #1

Sun Series #1

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Life Maintenance or When Real Life Takes Over

"Botanical Lies" (first side)
Originally posted on July 1
"Botanical Lies" (reverse side)

So, you may have noticed that my posts have been few and far between as well as all over the place...artwork, gardening, canning the produce, old shorts, art fairs, workshops.   That is kind of how the summer has been.  Add in lots of company and cooking and hopefully you can see how real life usurped the idyllic art life.
When this happens I call it "life maintenance", just carrying on with all of the duties that daily life requires.

But I am closing in on finishing this two-sided accordion fold book titled "Botanical Lies" which I wrote about back on July 1 (Yikes!).  The top photo here is the finished side that was previously posted in July.  The lower and larger photo is the reverse side of the book which is almost done.  So close, and with the prediction of rain for this week maybe I can get into the studio because I won't be able to work outside.  The left half of the reverse side needs more work and I want to do some negative painting as well.  My goal is to get this finished this week.  And I don't have much more time to work on it as it has to be delivered to the show it will be in around the middle of September.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rust, Bleach, Burn, and Stain, Oh My!!

This past weekend I taught a workshop at the Morgan Paper Conservatory in Cleveland.  As the title of the posts says, we rusted, bleached, burned and stained paper to use in collage, printmaking, and painting.  The class consisted of artists with a wide range of backgrounds and talents...collage artists, printmakers, painters, book artists and papermakers.
 It was 2 days full of experimenting and sharing.  Here are some of their results.

Thanks to the Morgan for inviting me to teach this fun class
and thanks to all of the participants!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

20 Year Old Shorts!

Rest in Peace, 20 Year Old Shorts!

Yep, I've had these shorts for 20 years.  And even though they are ripped and patched,  with holes in all of the wrong places, I can not bear to throw them out.  So I pinned them to my studio wall and put this black frame around them to give them their just reward and recognition for their years of service.

As I look at them I see them as a metaphor for the way in which my summers have changed during the 2 years I have been retired.  When I was teaching, summer was the main time I could work on my art.  I did do gardening and home improvement projects during the summer but I really concentrated on making art.  Especially in July.  That was "Art Month"...the month after May and June when I got the garden going and before the month of August when I would start to think about preparing for the school year. So I was always patching time together to get everything done during the summer months.

But with retirement I am able to spend more time in the garden.  I find that it is suddenly noon and all I have done is watered, weeded, and harvested. Then I need to do something with all of that produce, so I can and freeze fruits and veggies.  I find it incredibly hard to get into the studio and when I do it is for a brief time that feels patched together with the time when I was in there a week ago.

Now the shorts represent the entire year, not just the summer months.
Patched yet still whole they remind me of how I used to work to get a lot accomplished in a short time with the holes representing the things that didn't get done and the patches my attempts to keep it all together.
 I can spend twice as much time in the studio as I concentrate on artwork from September to May instead of mainly in July. The still solid part of the denim represents my art practice now instead of it being represented by just the patches and holes.
Corny, maybe, but true.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Seamstress' Lunch Break
6x7" on board

I seem to be unable to keep stitching or references about sewing and fiber from my artwork.
The use of the thread and pattern paper in the background with the silverware made me think of the days when women worked in factories making shirts and dresses.
 I could see the short breaks these women were allowed to take for lunch and their metal lunch pails.
I could see their white shirt waisted dresses worn with black stockings and black shoes.
Cutting the patterns.
Sewing at black Singer pedal sewing machines.
Hot rooms with little ventilation.
The fact that I was reading a book about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that took place in 1911 I am sure influenced the use of the materials and the title.  While this piece has none of the tragic aspects of the devastating circumstances of that event, the materials used, from the vintage silverware to the pattern paper and old zipper, easily references the period and the work that women did at that time.    
It is surprising and yet somehow expected the way various aspects and influences of daily life take form in one's artwork.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Knives, Spoons and Mom's Recipe Box

Missing the Forks
6x7" on board

More from the silverware series where I used those precious, favorite napkins as collage elements.
The writing behind the napkins are copies of some of my mother's recipes.
I have her little recipe file box, which is pictures above, as well as lots of loose recipes that she collected.
When I find myself writing notes, art ideas, book titles, etc. on little slips of paper instead of in my journal or my date book, I know that I am turning into my Mom!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

From Paper Napkin to Art

Dinner Music
6x7" on board

I've had a package of paper napkins with silverware imagery on them for a while now.
The silverware is nicely rendered and looks like a set that my mom might have had.
I use them sparingly because I like them so much and it seems sad to have to discard them after using them for such a brief time.  So I decided if I were to use them in a collage that would give them some longevity.

It was fun to incorporate the silverware napkins with the sheet music.
And I allowed the wood to remain unpainted so this lends a natural and table top like appearance to the work.
The shadows were added with watercolor pencils and shellac sealed the work and deepened the color of the wood.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Diagramming Sentences from A to Z!

"Diagramming Sentences
  from A to Z"
26 individual pages in a box
for display.
Pages measure about 7.5 x 11".

The artists book group I belong to, ABC, ( presents a book exhibit each year called Abecederia where the participants create a book that revolves around the letters in the alphabet.  The group is dedicated to promoting, encouraging and teaching contemporary and traditional artistic practices involved in making handmade books.

 This was a fun and challenging exhibit.   Part of the challenge for me, and I suspect for many of the members, is to find a way to use each letter of the alphabet in their project.  While one doesn't have to use every letter, the books need to clearly reflect the importance of the alphabet, whether it is one letter that is emphasized  or all of them.  Here is my entry for this year using the alphabet and remembering my love of diagramming sentences.

I really did love this activity.  It was a way to  visually represent the alphabet and seems to me now, and I think then, as an artistic endeavor.  I had a lot of fun creating crazy and implausible sentences using each letter of the alphabet.  I did have to consult a book about diagramming as it wasn't like riding a bike.  I forgot some of the rules.

I wanted the pages to reference the way we used to take turns diagramming the given sentences on the blackboard, hence the use of the black and white.  I smiled all though this project.

I did take some liberties with the "book" aspect as I did not bind the pages together.
I felt it would be easier to read as single pages and could also be displayed on a wall as opposed to on a pedestal.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Beans, Oh My!

This is what has been taking up all of my time...the garden.
But this is a form of art as well.

I love making this space as creative as possible, working with found materials to create the raised beds and adding flowers to the vegetable garden.  Each year it takes on its own character as I rotate where the vegetables will be and as Mother Nature makes some plants more successful than others.
This year I am having good luck with tomatoes, cucumbers and beans, although the bean plants while very full and leafy are almost done.  The tomatoes are doing better than last year and I am growing potatoes for the first time ever this year. It is all a revelation to me.

I have been in my studio making art as well, but now that I am not working on just the small 6x6" pieces progress is a bit slower.  I am also making some work for the artists book group I belong to and will post those soon.  The "Botanical Lies" piece is one of those works.  And the sculptural piece with the tea bag cocoons I made that incorporated the plastic tubing (also name "A Botanical Lie") is another of the more time consuming works.  My plan for this upcoming week is garden maintenance, which to me means less gardening time and more work in my studio.